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Flu and COVID-19 can both be life-threatening if caught on their own. They can be even more dangerous if caught at the same time. Both spread more easily in winter, so this year, most adults and children will be eligible for a free flu jab, COVID-19 booster, or both.

Eligibility for a flu and COVID-19 vaccine booster

Flu vaccine

The flu vaccine is given free on the NHS to people who are:

  • 50 and over (including those who will be 50 on 31 March 2022)
  • Have certain health conditions including respiratory conditions, heart conditions, being overweight and chronic kidney disease
  • Pregnant women
  • In long-stay residential care
  • Receive a carer's allowance, or are the main carer for an older or disabled person who may be at risk if you get sick
  • Living with someone who is more likely to get infections (such as someone who has HIV, has had a transplant or is having certain treatments for cancer, lupus or rheumatoid arthritis)
  • Frontline health or social care workers
  • Children aged 2-15 years old

COVID-19 booster

Stage 1:

  • Adults aged 16 years and over who are immunosuppressed
  • Those living in residential care homes for older adults
  • All adults aged 70 years or over
  • Adults aged 16 years and over who are considered clinically extremely vulnerable
  • Frontline health and social care workers

Stage 2:

The following people should be offered a third COVID-19 booster vaccine as soon as practicable after stage 1:

  • All adults aged 40 years and over
  • All adults aged 16 to 40 years who are in an influenza or COVID-19 at-risk group as outlined in the Green Book
  • Adult household contacts of immunosuppressed individuals

Can I get the COVID-19 vaccine booster at the same time as my flu vaccine?

Yes. For those eligible for both jabs, the JCVI has now confirmed that you can received both the flu and COVID-19 vaccines on the same day if you wish. However, you should get the vaccines as soon as they are offered to you. For some people, this will mean getting both at the same time and for others, it will mean getting the flu vaccine first.

Where can I get my COVID-19 booster and my flu vaccine?

The NHS will write to you when it is your turn to get your flu vaccine and/or COVID-19 booster jab.

Many people will receive their flu vaccination at a GP surgery as usual. Others may go to a pharmacy or another location in their community. School-aged children will receive their flu vaccination from a trained health professional at school or in their community. People eligible for a COVID-19 booster jab can get their jab through a vaccination centre, pharmacy or local GP-led vaccination service. Health professionals will also vaccinate care home staff and residents on-site.

When you are eligible, you can attend a walk in, or book your vaccine appointment online through the national booking system.

Is there a gap between getting my second COVID-19 vaccine and my COVID-19 booster?

Yes. There should be at least a six-month gap between getting your second COVID-19 vaccine and your COVID-19 booster to maximise clinical effectivity.

What type of COVID-19 vaccine will be used for my COVID-19 booster?

After reviewing data on booster responses from different combinations of COVID-19 vaccines, JCVI advises a preference for the Pfizer-BioNTech (vaccine to be offered as the booster dose irrespective of which type of vaccine was used in the primary schedule). There is good evidence that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is well tolerated as a booster dose and will provide a strong booster response.

Alternatively, individuals may be offered a half dose of the Moderna vaccine, which should be well tolerated and is also likely to provide a strong booster response. A half dose of Moderna vaccine is advised over a full dose due to the levels of reactogenicity (side effects) seen following boosting with a full dose in clinical trials.

Where mRNA vaccines cannot be offered e.g. due to contraindication, vaccination with the AstraZeneca vaccine may be considered for those who received AstraZeneca vaccine in the primary course. More details are available in the green book.

Can I have the COVID-19 booster if I’m pregnant?

Yes. If you are pregnant and in one of the groups that the JCVI has recommended for the boosters, you are eligible to receive a booster, no earlier than six months after completion of the first course of vaccination.

Does the COVID-19 booster vaccine have any side effects?

As with your previous dose the common side effects are the same for all COVID-19 vaccines used in the UK, and include:

  • Having a painful, heavy feeling and tenderness in the arm where you had your injection. This tends to be worst around 1 to 2 days after the vaccine
  • Feeling tired
  • Headache
  • General aches, or mild flu like symptoms

You can rest and take paracetamol (follow the dose advice in the packaging) to help make you feel better. Although feeling feverish is not uncommon for 2 to 3 days, a high temperature is unusual and may indicate you have COVID-19 or another infection. Although a fever can occur within a day or 2 of vaccination, if you have any other COVID-19 symptoms or your fever lasts longer, stay at home and arrange to have a test.

Symptoms following vaccination normally last less than a week. If your symptoms seem to get worse or if you are concerned, you can call NHS 111.

If you had serious side effects after any previous dose you may be advised to avoid or delay further vaccination. You should discuss this with your doctor or specialist.

More information about the flu jab.

Updated: 18 January 2022

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